Today's Blogs

Nails in the Hammer’s Coffin?

Bloggers respond to Tom DeLay’s latest indictment; they also scrutinize Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers’ stance on homosexuality and discuss Bhutan’s index of gross national happiness.

Nails in the Hammer’s coffin? House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was indicted last week on conspiracy charges for allegedly using corporate contributions to fund Texas congressional campaigns in 2002. Yesterday, DeLay’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, defended him in front of a Texas grand jury by claiming that conspiracy laws weren’t in effect in 2002. Shortly thereafter, another Texas grand jury indicted DeLay on two new counts of money laundering. DeLay’s handling of corporate contributions during the 2002 elections is still at stake, but this charge is more serious—DeLay could go to prison for life. 

Rules of Engagement’s left-leaning Jeremy D. Thompson explains DeLay’s alleged naughty deed: “What he did—moving hard money and soft money around between various committees (especially party committees), does happen all the time … General swaps of money (’I’ll give you 100k of soft, you give me 100k of hard’) are cool. Swaps of hard for soft money, with specific purposes in mind (’I’ll give you 100k and you send 100k to this guy, and this guy, and this guy’), especially when the money is not allowed in one jurisdiction or the other is laundering.”

Die-hard conservatives are still sticking up for DeLay and attacking Democratic District Attorney Ronnie Earle. “So, a grand jury empanelled for six months concluded that there was no money laundering, yet, a new grand jury finds on day one what the other couldn’t after six months? Do you need anymore proof that Ronnie Earle is engaged in prosecutorial abuse against Tom DeLay?” asksGOP Bloggers’ Matt Margolis.

According to the Washington Post, Earle and DeLay’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, may have been wrangling  “over the continued viability of a waiver of the three-year statute of limitations that DeLay granted in writing on Sept. 12 in order to keep trying to persuade Earle not to issue any indictments.” The piece goes on to say that DeGuerin withdrew the waiver after last week’s indictment, but the latest charges assume that he didn’t. “A key transaction in the alleged conspiracy—the payment of $190,000 by the RNC to the Texas Republican candidates—occurred on Oct. 4, 2002, or three years ago today. That means that if the waiver is no longer in effect, the new charges had to be brought quickly.”

Many bloggers go further in speculating about how each side is trying to use the waiver to its advantage. Krempasky at group blog Red asserts, “Earle threatened DeLay’s lawyers with a simple threat: waive your rights to a statute of limitations or I’ll indict you today. DeLay so waived, waiting to see what Earle would present. He showed up with a big fat pile of nothing.” Next Hurrah’s liberal Emptywheel writes, “Deguerin may have had DeLay sign the waiver as part of a deal. He waives the statute of limitations. And then he only gets charged with conspiracy, not the more serious crime of money laundering. … Did Deguerin just piss away the advantage he bought by waiving the statute of limitations on the conspiracy charge?”

Read more about DeLay and money laundering; view the GOP’s attack ad against Ronnie Earle; readSlate coverage. This Blog is Full of Crap asks cats what they think about DeLay’s indictments.

Is Miers gay-friendly? Bloggers continue to probe Harriet Miers, whom President Bush nominated to the Supreme Court yesterday. AmericaBlog’s liberal John Aravosis published a 1989 questionnaire from the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas that Miers answered during her run for city council. He pointed out that Miers wasn’t looking for an endorsement from the group. Nonetheless, she “says she believes gays should have the same civil rights as straights,” and “seems supportive of increased AIDS funding, which isn’t a small deal in 1989, especially in a more conservative place with Texas.” The news soon became a banner headline on the Drudge Report and made its round around the Web.

However, few bloggers agree on what this news reveals. Conservative Paxalles considers these statements in line with Miers’ Christianity: “[T]here would seem to be a minority in this country who would not accord civil rights to gays—regardless of where they stand on the gay marriage issue—and as VP Cheney has an openly gay daughter who serves faithfully, it is doubtful that the administration would be against this concept.” Joe Malchow of Joe’s Dartblog notes that when Miers was “asked if she supports repealing Texas’ sodomy laws, she answered in the negative.” He concludes, “This is a mixed bag more than anything, and I don’t think it especially aids or harms her chances.” Lesbian blog Hothouse muses, “It’s not clear what exactly Miers stands for—except being loyal to the Bush clan, which in the end, was probably the point. Wherever she falls on the ideological spectrum, though, at least we can take consolation in the fact that she wasn’t nearly the gal the right wing was hoping for.”

Read more about Miers and homosexuality.

Happy happy joy joy: Some bloggers are intrigued by a New York Times article about how nations measure their citizens’ happiness. It notes that Bhutan has focused on its “Gross National Happiness,” instead of its gross domestic product, since 1972.

Some bloggers are using the opportunity to wonder why people in rich countries are so unhappy. Great Blogs of Fire’s Kyle Martin, a teacher, links to an article that claims 75 percent of Bhutanese are happy. He also ponders how happiness can measured and writes, “[F]or a country that is focusing on happiness as a sole measure of national wealth I find it hard to believe that they aren’t already on a higher level of content than most of the rest of the world.” Lex Sisney, who’s interested in spirituality and entrepreneurship, believes that “the [NYT] article doesn’t give the ‘poor little country’ of Buhtan enough credit for thinking outside of the box,” and points out, “GDP is a fine measurement of economic growth but it fails miserably as a measure of cultural progress and happiness. Why? Because GDP considers things like ecology, health care, family time, recreation, and education as COSTS against production not as ASSETS for a sound and vibrant culture and future.”But William’s Big Adventure examines a survey of happiness in rich and poor countries and snarks, “Oh, remind me not to move to Indonesia. Poor AND Unhappy, not good.”

Read more about Bhutan and gross national happiness.

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